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Broadcasters look to programmatic programming

The logical outcome of the industry’s drive to OTT will be television tailored to consumers. While some years away from this eventuality broadcasters have begun making moves in this direction.

“There will be personalised TV channels,” said Steve Reynolds, President, Imagine Communications in the opening keynote to TV Connect. “You will see a channel personalised specifically for you.”

Allan McLennan, CEO / founder PADEM Group & TV Connect Leaders in Global Video Group Chairman dubbed the development ‘Programmatic programming’.

“What is not going to change is the reason that consumers love TV and pulls them to platforms which is the quality of content,” he said. “What will change is how we programme the content to get to the consumer.

“Intelligent systems will learn what consumers want, when they want it and be able to serve that content up with relevant associated ads.”

Imagine Communications can give a helicopter view of such trends since its technology plays a role in about 80 percent of broadcaster playout operations worldwide.

“The pace of acceptance of IP over the last year has picked up,” said Reynolds. “A lot of traditional broadcasters are really embracing the dynamic happening on the customer side.”

He cited Disney, an Imagine client, which is launching a pair of SVOD services, one around sports, the other (due 2019) around entertainment.

“Its strategy is that instead of building walls around its business it will build a platform that gets them to the audience.”

The end game for Disney and other broadcasters transitioning to IP is to put playout – and programming – into the cloud.

“Why? Because their customers are now connected to the cloud,” said Reynolds. “The idea of a bricks and mortar broadcast centre probably goes away at some point. With all content in the cloud and the ability to deliver that over IP to consumers, this is where fundamental change begins.”

New over the air delivery standards like ATSC 3.0 and the rollout of cellular network 5G are important parts of the infrastructure assisting broadcaster moves to live and on-demand personalised streaming while keeping one foot in delivery of linear programming.

Advances in Machine Learning and AI will “eventually help us to better understand content and targeting advertising,” said Reynolds. “This is still a few years away but it will make some fundamental changes to the media and entertainment experience.”

Conviva CMO Ed Haslam agreed that individualised channels – one per person – is the direction things are headed.

“What we see across our providers is the personalisation of monetisation,” he said. “Every consumer has a different sense of what they are prepared to pay or how many ads they will watch for live sport and also for entertainment.

“We will see increasing use of data to understand individual monetisation preferences so the provider can deliver personalised skinny bundles or convert AVOD-only customers into VOD customers or a hybrid of the two.”

The underlying assumption is that consumers want highly personalised content and bespoke forms of payment.

“This will increase engagement which is necessary in order to grow the business,” added McLennan.

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